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  • We travelled a lot when I was a child. I never knew my dad, and my mother always wanted to keep moving. There were good sides to her incessant roaming, but when I was younger it wasn’t easy.

    What it meant: several times a year, I’d have to start a new school. Normally mid-term, inevitably wearing clothes that might have looked alright where I came from, but were doing something wrong for where I’d arrived.

    What I remember: more than anything was my first days. There were so many of them. Me, up at the front of the class, having to introduce myself.

    Me, scanning a room of mainly bored and hostile faces, the occasional curious or friendly glance, trying to work out where it was safest to sit. Sometimes, I made friends. Other times, I hardly spoken to anyone and suddenly we were leaving again.

    Before I met anyone, I always expected the worst. That this time, I was going to be ignored or ridiculed or bullied or violated. To make sure nobody noticed, I had my formula, the introduction to get me through the first few minutes.

    I’m not a nervous person, and few things scare me. But even now, when I introduce myself, to the most unthreatening people, the doubts return. Some long unsnappable thread back to my past that words unlock. Words you can’t do without. Not unless you want to stay hidden and unknown.

    When I introduce myself these days, I’m still unsure how it’s going to turn out. At least now, I hope for the best, tell myself that the uneasy feeling in my stomach is just anticipation. This time the intro is going lead to wonder and warmth.

    Hello. My name is Kay. And I’m new here.
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